While basking in the historical moment of Creamline’s title conquest, Jema Galanza found out that she would be heralded as the 2019 PVL Open Conference Most Valuable Player.
As the announcement echoed throughout the FilOil Flying V Centre and the ecstatic crowd showered her with love, the 5-foot-7 outside hitter couldn’t hide the ray of sunshine painted all over her face on that fateful Saturday evening.
After all, the individual accolade is the culmination of her hard work and sacrifices as an athlete.
“Ang sarap sa pakiramdam din kasi last year pa, sobrang… ‘Yung pagod ko kay coach Tai [Bundit] sa training, umiiyak ako sa kanya. Sumasakit ang ankle ko lagi sa kanya,” recounted Galanza.
“Lahat ng paghihirap naranasan ko sa kanya.“
It is almost cruel not to mention one of Galanza’s biggest sacrifices in her young career.
Midway through the PVL Open Conference, the erstwhile Adamson standout begged off from donning the tricolors of the country. She wanted to keep her focus on Creamline’s title-retention bid, as her teammates and perennial national team campaigners Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado dealt with injuries and availability concerns.
Galanza was then thrust further into the spotlight. She then responded with one of the finest seasons of her career.
The proud daughter of San Pedro, Laguna’s served as the backbone for Creamline’s unprecedented run through the tournament. She was more than willing to shoulder the load in every aspect outside playmaking. And her gallant effort paid dividends by the end of the elimination round as she emerged as one of the league leaders in five skill rankings, cementing her case in the MVP conversation.
But still, Galanza made it a point to touch upon the impact Creamline has had on her ascent as a volleyball player.
“Sobrang thankful ko kay coach Tai. Siyempre sa teammates ko rin kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanila, ‘di ko magagawa ‘yun,” Galanza bared.
“Nandiyan sila para i-push din ako and i-motivate ako everyday na kaya ko ‘to — na kaya ko kahit ‘di ko na kaya.”
With a gold medal dangling around her neck and an individual trophy to boot, all of the hard work and all of the sacrifices have finally paid off for Galanza.
Still, she’s far from done on the court.